July 08, 2004

The Piece Maker

So, last night, I saw my man Joe Hernandez-Kolski's solo show, "You Wanna Piece of Me?" at the Electric Lodge in Venice, CA, where it will be running for the next 4 nights.

Digression: Can I say, I never knew there really is a street called "Electric Avenue"?

Back to the subject at hand....

The show is awesome.

Yes, the music is off the hinges - from the jaw-dropping turntable skills of Joe's DJ, Jedi (on loan from HBO's Def Poetry) and the smallest taste of Josh Silverstein's human beatbox onslaught.

Yes, the poetry is fluid and insidious - sometimes you don't even realize that Joe's performing a poem because the flow is so natural and conversational until he pulls the ripcord on the verse and it blows up like a balloon right before your eyes.

Yes, the dancing is out of this world - beyond the usual breaking and poppin' & lockin' you'd expect from a former club dancer, Joe finds ways to tell entire stories without a single word, but only the movement of his body. A piece in the middle of the show where he depicts the mind-numbingly grinding rat-race of a super-overachiever's life at Princeton is one of the most expressive performances I've ever seen.

But, at the end of the day, what makes it all work is the fact that Joe absolutely empties his soul onto that stage floor for the world to see - his own internal demons over his mixed racial heritage; the way he debunks the way men belittle women, and then debunks his own debunking as simply a means to get women; own desperate quest to make the rest of the world give as much of a damn as he does, and then his realization of the deep personal costs he pays for having the arrogance to be a self-appointed savior of everything from hip-hop music to a lost generation of Lation kids who look just like him - it's all there.

It's not every day I get to see a friend perform a vivisection on himself so he can entertain and enlighten.

Understatement of the week: He gets my props.

And the good folks at Venice Magazine, LA Weekly, and Latino LA all seem to agree with me.

The show is running for the next four nights. I cannot recommend it stronger. Go to his site (click the main link for this post or just go to Pochojoe.com).

And I, for one, am hoping he and Jedi are recording some of this to put out a bootleg mix-tape soundtrack or something.

Oh, and did I mention that Joe is also going to be one of the featured poets on Def Poetry Slam, airing on September 19th on HBO? So, those of you who miss out won't have to miss out completely.
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